A/N: Apologies for the wait. See at the end for a more appropriate response.
We call them weak
Who are unable to resist
Justin staggered downstairs on the first of August. He was still sleep fogged but he hadn't wanted to sleep so late like he usually did, he was in a very happy mood and he wanted it to last as long as possible. Yesterday had been absolutely remarkable and not only because Harry was now his, but because of all the smiles and laughter he was able to get out of Harry. He remembered them taking two more goes on the Ferris Wheel until Justin's pager had gone off.
He could just see Ernie's round face and pompous stare if he could hear Justin's thoughts. He'd be called a pathetic love-sick moron who needed to get his head out of the clouds.
But Justin didn't care, if being 'sick' felt like this then he'd stay sick and never try and get better. Sappy and girly sounded but who cared. He was happy and that was that.
"It was a Dementor."
Justin froze when he stepped into the kitchen to see Remus and Sirius sitting at the small island with Daniel and Jason on the other side. Daniel had his hand over his mouth.
"Dementor? What do they do exactly?" Jason asked. "I've heard that term several times but it's unclear to me."
Sirius looked pained. "They administer something called the Dementor's Kiss and when they do it, they suck your soul out, and leave you nothing but a vegetable."
"Oh God, that poor child!" Daniel gasped.
Remus nodded. "Yeah, the Dursleys did not take it well. The Ministry of Magic had to Obliviate them completely, wipe everything of the Magical World. Petunia Dursley doesn't even know she had a sister now and has no idea that Harry exists."
"We were able to get this, before all hell broke loose," Sirius said pushing a piece of paper toward them. "Harry's guardianship. Neither of us can take him and this needs to be filed before the Ministry gets a hold of it. I fear what they would do, Dumbledore is losing ground. You may not have much respect for him because of everything's he's done but putting Harry in the Ministry's hands is dangerous. It'll kill him."
Daniel took the paper and skimmed over it, Jason was already giving him a fountain pen. "We've already discussed this," Jason said as Daniel took to signing his name on the line without hesitation.
"We believe that this is an act from inside the Ministry itself," Remus confessed. "Fudge is a very overzealous character. He'll do anything to hold his position. No one but a few people know that Harry can do a Patronus. I believe they were banking on shutting him up about Lord Voldemort's return and it backfired."
"Considering he is there no longer, which is good," Daniel said in relief. "What do we do now?"
"I'll have Arthur or Kingsley sneak this into the records office. It's backdated to last week so no one will ever know we slipped through the cracks of the chaos," Remus assured. "Arthur is the least noticed man in the Ministry and Kingsley is one of the best Aurors we have and he's on our side. I'll go ahead and get this to him."
"You told Dumbledore then?" Jason asked frowning.
"We had no choice," Sirius insisted. "We did not tell him your location or any of that. But we did tell him that Harry had already gone a few weeks prior. He was not pleased but he was relieved to know that Harry was safe. If I hadn't of told him this, he would have gone on a nationwide manhunt for Harry. He wants to relocate him to my manor but I asked Dumbledore to hold off for a while. He didn't like it but we're not Marauders for no reason."
Remus smiled weakly. "We know how to work around the forces, despite our mistakes. I'll get this to the Ministry. Sirius, you better get back to the manor soon. I expect someone will need to be there to answer the questions the Weasleys might have."
"How do we tell Harry?" Daniel asked looking up at Jason.
"I don't know."
"I'll tell him," Justin said leaning against the wall. Everyone looked over at him and Daniel rushed over and embraced him. "Pa? I'm fine and so is Harry." He patted his father on the back.
"I know, I mean, I can't help but think – that could have been Harry. I mean, I know that child of the Dursleys was rotten but he is still a child. He needed discipline not – this."
"Harry would have probably saved them," Sirius confessed as he stood and pushed the stool under the island. "His Patronus is unlike anything I have ever seen before. He saved me from over a hundred Dementors."
"What is a Patronus?" Jason asked curiously.
"A Patronus is a pure guardian of Magic. It's usually pale white and sometimes gold. It's one of the hardest bits of Magic to ever conjure. Most people can't do it, some Aurors can't even do it," Sirius expressed. "Harry can do it. It's a glorious stag. It takes the form of a creature that means something to the person. Harry's father was a stag animagus."
"How curious, I'd love to see one," Jason said trying to picture it.
"If Harry had been there, I'm sure they would try and expel him for Underage Magic since he would have survived the encounter. Ever since Azkaban I haven't been able to conjure a proper Patronus. All I get is a bunch of white wavy wisps," he confessed.
"You tell Dumbledore that if he wants to relocate Harry then he has to go through us," Daniel said as Jason pulled out a card.
"If he knows how to use a telephone then he should because we will not accept any surprise visits. We're not letting Harry go off to God knows where because a Headmaster thinks it's the best course of action," Justin's Dad said equally as coldly as his husband.
"Can't wait to see the reaction," Sirius confessed with a grin as he flicked the card.
Once Sirius had left, Justin turned to his parents. "What exactly happened?" He took a seat in front of the counter.
"Dudley Dursley, Harry's cousin was attacked by a Dementor last night," Daniel said sitting opposite of him. "They caused such a commotion that the Ministry had no choice but to Obliviate them and a set of neighbors that had heard everything. They don't even know Harry anymore, they never knew they had a nephew and the woman believes she is an only child."
Justin's mood had now been shattered. He didn't like the Dursleys at all but he wasn't that cruel, he might have wanted to knock their blocks off but he didn't want them to die. Just suffer a little.
"I hope Harry doesn't mind, Daniel took custody of him," Jason said handing Justin a glass of orange juice.
"He won't mind," Justin said softly. One good thing out of a whole lot of bad. He brushed a hand through his hair, pulling the thick loose locks out of his eyes and huffed as he stared at the eight o' clock hour. He stood up without saying a word and headed up the stairs.
He cringed at the thought of relaying bad news to Harry. He would not take this lightly at all, no matter how much he despised them, Harry never wanted them dead.
Harry was awoken by the dip in the bed, his eyes opened instantly, and shifted on his side to face Justin who placed his orange juice aside and laid down next to him.
"Morning," Justin said brushing Harry's face.
Harry smiled truly and this made Justin's heart restrict. He did not want to make that smile fall. "Yeah, morning."
Justin leaned in and brushed a soft kiss across Harry's lips, when he pulled back, Harry shuffled closer, and he smiled weakly as he curled his arms around the boy and hugged him close. "I'm sorry."
"For?" Harry asked resting his head on the boy's chest. He was rather slim but it was nice, he liked the comfort.
"I got bad news and good news. I'll just say it, last night Dudley was attacked by Dementors."
Harry gasped and jerked up, his eyes wide. His heart sank. "What?"
Justin took Harry's hand and brought it close. "I'm sorry, Remus and Sirius came by to tell us. They gave him the Kiss."
"Ohhh," Harry bowed his head, horrified, and a little guilty. "If I had been there-"
"Harry, Sirius already told us that if you had been there, they'd have dragged you into court under accounts of Underage Magic. They're trying to shut you up."
"It wasn't Voldemort?" Harry looked at Justin incredulously.
"They don't think so. The Dursleys had to be Obliviated, they caused quite a ruckus, so they don't even know who you are. They never knew they had a family member who was a witch or that she had a child."
Harry didn't quite know how to feel about that. One part happy, one part sad, and another part a little blameful but he knew that in the end, he couldn't keep blaming himself for things that people did. He felt terrible but what could he do?
"I'm really sorry, but, on the bright side Pa signed custody papers for you. Sirius and Remus somehow backdated it a week ago so that the Ministry won't find out that someone slipped through all the chaos."
"They signed?" Harry asked confused.
Justin nodded. "Quite happily too. They're very worried about you, Pa almost started to cry."
Harry's fingers snagged around the platinum key around his neck on instinct and stared at the far wall trying to let everything sink in. "It's fine," he then said turning to Justin and smiling when he saw those big brown eyes gazing at him deep concern. He laid back and gently kissed him. "I can't keep blaming myself for things that happen. I have no choice but to accept it, I'm just sorry I couldn't do anything."
"It's better this way, not that he's – nearly dead or anything, but that you're safe," Justin said biting his lower lip. "I hope you don't think I'm a horrid person, but I'm glad you weren't there last night. I know you can protect them but I would prefer you stay out of it."
"Not draw attention to myself," Harry said in understanding. "I know, don't worry. I could never think you were horrid, Justin." He touched Justin's cheek tenderly. "That word doesn't even begin to describe you. I've learned a lot ever since Cedric's death."
"Do you want to talk about it?" Justin asked. "You don't have too, but I'll listen."
Harry's fingers twisted into Justin's t-shirt instinctively. "I dream about it, a lot. I blame myself enough for one murder I don't need to do that with this. I can only take so much before I crack under pressure…" It was with that, Harry told Justin everything. From the moment his name was pulled out all the way through the trails.
Justin simply lay there tightening his grip and listening, Harry's voice cracked in certain places, and Justin's head fell back and he thought about it some more. "God, Harry. You helped Cedric even when my house was against you?"
"It was only fair," Harry said softly. "I mean, Fleur and Viktor knew and Hagrid let it slip for me. Cedric would have been the only one without the knowledge and I don't cheat. I play fairly."
"You were good to him, even when he didn't deserve it."
"It's easy to turn on someone you don't know," Harry murmured. "No one knew the real me, all they knew was what they had read. It's easy to lose sight of a person."
"They always say sticks and stones can break bones but words don't hurt – I think that's bull shit."
"It is," Harry agreed. "In fact, I prefer sticks and stones because they don't affect the way your heart feels after they've been thrown."
There was a soft tap on the door, and Justin called them in; Daniel and Jason were standing there with plates of food on silver trays.
"Morning, Harry," Daniel said gently padding over. "We thought you two could have some breakfast."
Harry smiled and struggled to sit up. "Looks great, thank you. But I'm okay."
"Are you sure?" Jason asked coming around to sit on Harry's free side. Daniel sat in front of the boys and Justin shifted a little so that he could use his hands to eat.
Harry nodded. "Yeah, it's horrible what happened but there's nothing I can do about it and I have enough blame on me to be going on with."
"What on earth could you blame yourself for?" Daniel asked nudging the plates toward the boys. "Eat and talk! I won't have you losing anymore weight."
Harry took a couple pieces of bacon. "Voldemort came back because of me, Cedric died because I tricked him into taking the cup with me. I had wanted it to be a Hogwart's Victory. I didn't want it but Cedric didn't want it either and I made us both take it. Voldemort used my blood to come back."
"That doesn't put you at fault, Harry. You only did what you thought was right by that boy. It's circumstantial at best something that would never hold up in a courtroom."
"Besides, you could not have prepared for what happened," Jason said softly.
"I should have put the clues together, all my dreams. I should have figured out that Moody was being impersonated. I should-" Suddenly, his lips were pinched together by Jason.
"Should have, could have, and would have. It doesn't change anything," Jason smiled warmly. "Don't think about the past. What you need to think about is the future." He cupped Harry's cheek gently. "Don't be so hard on yourself, Harry."
"You'll only make it more painful if you do," Daniel hummed pouring them some fresh orange juice. "Now, I have a question for you, Harry. It seems that Remus and Sirius had no choice but to mention that you were gone from Privet Drive. I signed custody papers."
"Justin told me," Harry said before Daniel could say anything more. "It's fine, so long as you wanted to do it and were not forced."
Jason snorted. "No one can force Daniel to do anything, Harry."
Daniel smirked. "We've been talking about it since before your birthday. I'll hand it to your godfathers, they've improved with their care and I believe they are now remembering what it is like to be a child, stuck in a life of hell. They pulled some tricks to protect you from the Ministry. One more thing, Dumbledore wants to relocate you. It is your choice whether to stay or go."
Justin frowned. "I don't want him going anywhere! He doesn't need to be anywhere near the war!"
"I agree, Justin. But honey, it's not our choice. If Harry feels that he should return then we need to support him," Daniel said softly.
Harry couldn't believe his ears. They were giving him a choice, a real choice. It wasn't like, 'you go here or else.' It was true, he would love to see his friends but he was seriously rethinking his place in the upcoming war. It was an inevitable occurrence, soon it would all get out and the Ministry would have no choice but to finally submit to the truths. "I don't want to relocate. I want to stay here," he insisted. "I've never been given a choice before and that means a lot. I was always told to go here, there, and everywhere without asking questions."
"You will always have a choice here, Harry. Justin has a choice and you have a choice. We will not steal it away from you so callously. Now, eat up. We'll return in a couple hours and Justin will tell me if you haven't eaten all your food." Daniel ruffed Harry's head an winked at Justin.
Justin snickered as Harry looked over at him. "You really wouldn't tell on me would you?"
Instead of answering right away, Justin leaned into Harry and kissed him softly. The taste of orange juice lingered between them. "Only because I care."
Harry stuck out his tongue and Justin kissed it. "Yeah, yeah." He wondered briefly if he was a bad person for feeling so happy? He knew that the Dursleys would never recover from this, and yet, here he was sitting with breakfast in bed next to his boyfriend and he was smiling.
He was torn on his emotions. The Dursleys were horrible to him and a sickening voice in the back of his head was telling him that they deserved it for all the pain they had caused him, for all the times they had heckled him about how his parents were worthless drunks and his mother was a bitch and she should have gotten rid of the 'pup.'
He grimaced at the memories but he shook his head furiously, refusing to stoop to that level. They would only know how he felt if they had remembered him and anyway, getting joy from someone else's pain was something Voldemort would do. Not him, not Harry Potter.
He looked over at Justin to see the teen watching him closely. "I had a horrible thought," he professed brokenly.
The Hufflepuff seemed to read his mind completely, or at least his face. "I had the same thoughts," Justin admitted brushing a kiss to Harry's temple. "We both had that thought and it's true and wrong at the same time. They did deserve it but it's wrong to think so. They hurt you, Harry. They willingly hurt you and now they are paying the consequences for their actions whether they now know it or not. Had they taken care of you, loved you like a real aunt and uncle should have, they would all have been fine, safe and sound because you would have done your damndest to protect them. Don't feel horrible over them because if something happened to you, they sure as hell wouldn't feel bad about it."
"No, they'd party," Harry assured. "And you, just sounded like a Slytherin."
"No, I sounded like someone who is Just. I'm a fair person, I believe you get what you give in time. They gave you over ten years of misery, they neglected you and did God only knows what and they enjoyed it. They enjoyed the pain they were able to inflict on you and now it's their turn to taste that pain. To me they are being punished. I am not a religious person, you can't find someone more anti-religion than me. But I do believe that there is someone out there, somewhere pulling the strings, and watching over."
Harry pushed the tray aside and abruptly he swung his legs over Justin causing the teen to gasp and clench his hips.
Harry snickered. "You pervert, what do you think I'm going to do?" he teased dropping a kiss onto Justin's forehead. "I need to go to the bathroom."
Justin deflated, his cheeks a brilliant red, and his hormones had reacted so quickly that he was only just realizing it. "Oh hush!" he squeezed Harry tighter causing the teen to grin and peck him on the lips.
"Color suits you, Justin."
"Nnn… are you going to the bathroom or are you going to sit on me?" Justin asked and he was hoping that it was latter.
Harry slipped off the bed and staggered as he tried to catch his balance. "Maybe later," he chirped disappearing through a door.
Justin sighed and leaned back, breaking off spare pieces of bacon and munching on it as he did. Harry was alright, Harry was smiling, and he nodded.
His good mood came back tenfold.
When they received their letters from Hogwarts, Daniel and Jason also received an invite to the Order of the Phoenix's secret location. When Remus and Sirius dropped by on the third, they promised Daniel that Harry would not be held hostage.
"I won't allow it, I already told Dumbledore that if he wanted to play prison guard, he'd have to find a new place for his Order," Sirius replied with a small smile. "I wasn't going to allow him to imprison my Godson like that."
"I know you're a little weary of Dumbledore," Remus said softly. "But I think it would be a good idea if you took his protection for when you venture into Diagon Alley. Just in case. I can be with you but Sirius can't, he's too well known. The Death Eaters know all about his animagus form."
Daniel looked over at Jason, waiting for his husband's answer.
Harry was observing all of this from Justin's lap in one of the armchairs, he was tugging on the necklace around his neck and it was becoming habit forming whenever he was nervous, or in simply in thought. It was like a strange sort of comfort.
"I think we should give it a go, Daniel," Jason said dropping a gentle hand onto the man's head. "We do need security protection, we're utterly useless to Harry in that particular position."
Daniel inclined his head. "I know, I just wanted to hear you say it. It's fine, we'll accept this invite but you tell your Headmaster that Harry is ours now and we will not accept anyone else's nose in our business. I did not sign those custody papers for no reason, I take my job as a parent seriously."
Harry was trying to understand the exchange between Daniel and Jason to Sirius and Remus. It was a little arcane to him because all his life very little care had gone into his wellbeing. It was always stay at the relatives, but now, Daniel seemed to be on guard like a dog and he was bound to attack at one point.
He took in a quiet breath when Justin's fingers slipped under the hem of his t-shirt and touched his bare skin. He leaned back until his cheek was pressed to Justin's. It was so natural the way Justin was touching him so affectionately. It was like Harry had been with Justin all along but never knew it.
Usually, Harry would be a stammering mess, wondering if he was going to do something wrong or touch something that he wasn't supposed too. But he didn't find any of that with Justin, it was as easy as breathing, and that relieved and scared Harry all at once. He feared that it would be taken away from him. It'd been less than three days but it felt as if it had been coming forever with just enough gradual build up to finally notice it and take charge of the situation.
Perhaps it started sometime around third year? Justin's random appearances, questions about his care and then stopping off in the hospital to make sure he was alright. Harry remembered that night, he had wondered if Justin would visit him or if the boy would blame him for his house-mates death. He should have known not to think Justin would do something so low.
Justin was the true nature of a Hufflepuff, he was embodied with just a bit of everything.
He shivered when Justin's fingers ran down his shoulder and along his forearm, goose pimples formed and Harry squirmed. "What are you doing?" he asked quietly.
"Touching you," Justin answered without blinking.
It was a windy August morning, the sun was dim and to Harry it looked like it was going to rain. Jason and Daniel had insisting on driving to this, 'Grimmauld Place' and Remus placed their car under a few Notice-Me-Not Charms before leading them down the dilapidated street.
"Hm, this place is a breeding ground for drug activity," Daniel commented keeping the pace.
"It's perfect for hiding in plain sight," Remus said softly. "Just up here, remember what I gave you guys?"
Jason and Daniel nodded followed by Justin and Harry. When they came upon number eleven and thirteen Grimmauld they all four started when number twelve slipped into place as if it had always been there.
"Also, keep it down low when we enter the house. There's a portrait that screams bloody murder every time it's bothered," Remus said sourly.
Justin kept hold of Harry as they were led into the dusty black entrance hall. Daniel had to place a hand over his mouth to keep from coughing and Jason shifted from foot to foot reaching out to make sure the boys were next to them.
"This way," Remus barely breathed as they tip-toed across the wooden floorboards passing a gently swaying purple tapestry.
Harry and Justin eyed it suspiciously before moving along toward straight ahead and a set of stairs that led to the upper floors.
Remus pushed it back allowing a stream of off yellow to light their way into an old fashioned kitchen.
Harry's saw a gaggle of redheads and one brunette but he hardly had time for anything else because the brunette launched herself on him, throwing her thin body into his arms and if Justin hadn't been behind him, he would have definitely fallen over.
"Oi, Hermione, I need to breath!" Harry said patting her on the back.
She pulled away, flushed in the cheeks. "Are you okay, Harry? Where have you been?" she asked breathlessly and then she squeaked when she recognized Justin behind Harry.
"Justin Finch-Fletchley?" she queried.
"That's me," Justin said keeping a hand on Harry.
She was confused. Harry smiled. "I've been at Justin's this whole time."
"Harry! Why didn't you tell us mate?" Ron asked moving into his peripheral line of sight. He was as gangly and tall as Harry remembered him.
"I couldn't. You would have told Dumbledore."
"No we wouldn't!" Ron argued shaking his head. "We wouldn't have told that old man anything!"
"Ronald! Don't disrespect your Headmaster that way, and move aside, I want to see Harry for myself!" Mrs. Weasley motherly voice cut through Ron and he was suddenly pushed aside and Harry wound up in the tight arms of the Weasley Matriarch. "Oh, Harry it's good to see you again. How are you doing dear?"
Harry nodded. "I'm great Mrs. Weasley," he insisted and it was only then when all of his friends realized he was safe and sound they turned to the Muggles observing everything.
"Oh, hello! So rude of me, I apologize, I'm Molly Weasley!"
"Daniel Finch and this is my husband, Jason Fletchley, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance," he said as they all shook hands.
Ron was looking confused. "What's going on?" he asked looking from Justin to Harry.
"He's with me," Harry and Justin said at the same time.
Several blinks all around.
"When did this happen?" Hermione asked curiously. "I didn't think you even knew each other."
"We do," Justin assured with a smile. "After I apologized for my stupidity in second year, we met up a few times in the hall and I visited him in the hospital wing."
"Oh," Hermione said and she looked a little hurt that Harry hadn't told her.
"I don't understand, when?" Ron asked thickly.
"Mostly last year," Harry answered.
Ron's ears pinked. "Oh, I see," he said with a nod of sad understanding.
Bill moved through the crowd of his family and lifted Harry up off his feet. He winked at Justin who arched an eyebrow.
"Good to see you, Harry!"
"You too, Bill!"
Mrs. Weasley was tittering on about food and how both boys looked a little thin. Daniel arched an eyebrow. "I know you're being courteous but please don't suggest that I starve my boys."
Mrs. Weasley flushed. "Oh, heavens no! I didn't mean it like that!" she insisted.
It was awkward for a moment, Ron and Hermione were asking Harry if he was staying but the teen shook his head. "No, I'm going back."
"Why?" Ron asked confused.
"I don't want to be here," he admitted. "I don't want to hear about it."
"But, Harry, it's dangerous!" Hermione explained. "You can't go back out there, this is the most safe place."
"Like Privet Drive was?" Harry asked darkly and she flinched at that.
"Yes, well – I don't know how that happened."
"The Ministry," Remus quipped drawing a glare from Mrs. Weasley. "They're out to hush anyone's claims of Voldemort's return. The Dementors are still under the Ministry control, Voldemort has yet to make that move and I don't think he'll be moving until everyone finally believes."
"Right now, he's a mere shadow and he can do what he wants because he has men on all sides lining the Minister's pockets with shiny gold," Sirius added his two bits in.
"Dumbledore should be here in about a half hour," Remus assured offering everyone seats. Harry sat between Jason and Justin.
Mrs. Weasley was asking Daniel and Jason questions but Daniel refused to answer when she asked where they lived.
"Our home has had wards put up by the MacMillan's not to mention the normal security that is usually around a large home. In fact, none of you had any idea that Harry had gone until the attack of the Dementors."
"How did you know where he lived?" Mrs. Weasley asked.
"Everyone knows," Justin added. "They know the general area, Ernie was the one who told me. It wasn't very hard after knocking on some doors. I was not pleased with the paper and I thought Harry could use a break and it seems I was right."
There was more chatter and general questions but Daniel was the King of evasion.
Ron and Hermione looked like they wanted to get Harry along but even though he loved them, he didn't wish to talk about his relationship with Justin. In fact, Harry kind of wanted to keep the boy to himself. He had to share everyone else with the world, why couldn't he have Justin alone?
When Dumbledore finally arrived it was a tense moment. Daniel was already standing and he was eyeing the aged Headmaster coolly.
Jason was the first one to introduce themselves.
"Ah, the Finch-Fletchley's. How nice it is to meet you!" Dumbledore said kindly. His eyes honed in on Harry and looked him over thoroughly. "It seems your holiday has been splendid, Harry."
"Give me one good reason I shouldn't take this chair I was sitting on to your head, old man," Daniel replied bluntly.
Dumbledore blinked and most of the room gasped in surprise. Sirius was snickering and Remus was elbowing him.
Daniel's eyes narrowed. "Are you that stupid? Whatever for?" he repeated coolly. "You send a child to abusive people who hated him and starved him! Then you have the gall to ask me why I don't want to hit you with something? Perhaps it'll knock some sense into that old brain of yours!"
Dumbledore did look ashamed. "I can only say that it was for his protection."
"Protection? What protection? We took Harry from Privet Drive, three whole weeks before your knowledge. What if we had been those Death Eaters?" The room was obviously surprised with a 'Muggle' knowing their current events. He scoffed at them all. "Do you really think I'd send my boy to school without knowing what he was getting into? If Justin was eleven-years-old right now and all this trouble was taking place, he would not going to school there any longer. But since he's old enough to decide for himself, I have no choice but to allow it. But remember this, Headmaster. Harry is now mine, he's my child, and I will not have you pulling him in a direction that he does not want to go!"
Silence reigned over the kitchen and Daniel and Dumbledore seemed to be facing off in some sort of staring contest and soon Dumbledore lost by looking away. "I apologize, I had no idea the blood wards were so weak."
"I never considered it home, Professor," Harry spoke up from his place slightly behind Daniel. "They didn't love me, they didn't want me. I didn't love them and didn't want them. You forced me there, I never went willingly."
"I'm not even going to get started on the fact that you, a simple Headmaster dropped a baby off in front of a stranger's doorstep without even so much as an explanation except for a stupid letter that probably made no sense. Do you even have an ounce of guilt for your actions? Are you really a caring Headmaster? I have to admit, I do not see it."
"The Headmaster has always meant well!" the lady on Dumbledore's side said sharply. "He's made mistakes but he's done all he can for the safety of our children."
"Who are you?' Daniel asked.
"Professor Minerva McGonagall!" she said drawing herself up to full height.
"Nice to meet you, and I am sorry but it's not good enough," Daniel replied. "Why don't you ask Harry what he wants for a change? Don't you think you should give a choice whether to sacrifice all and become an adult too early or remain as he is, and safe from the things that are bigger than him."
"He's very powerful."
"I don't give a damn how powerful you think he is, he's still a child!" Daniel hissed. "He's someone's baby. Whether his mother is dead or not makes no difference in what he still is!"
Professor Snape who had been behind Dumbledore the whole time flinched visibly and he bristled but remained quiet, while the elderly stiff woman on his left was staring at Daniel with her mouth gaping open like a fish in need of water.
"I think my husband makes a rather valid point, Headmaster," Jason interjected before anything else could be said. "You're piling all of this trouble on a boy and you're not giving him any choice in the matter. Why don't you ask him properly. Ask if he wants to fight."
"I quite agree, Albus," Mrs. Weasley said moving to stand next to the Muggles. "They've said everything I've wanted to say all these years. I just never had the courage. It's obvious they care about Harry, love him and treat him like their own. You cannot viably take that away from him and I won't allow you too."
Dumbledore peered over at Harry who raised his head and looked him dead in the eye. "I don't want to fight. I don't want to face Voldemort. I don't want anything to do with it. You may say it's not very Gryffindor of me but I wasn't meant to be in Gryffindor Headmaster and you know it. I'm a Slytherin and I think I prefer self-preservation. I'm fifteen with a fourth year education, there is nothing I can do and even if there is. I don't want too."
Hermione crossed her arms over her chest. "I think I said something like that in second year, when the nurse told me quite baldly that 'Harry handled it.' How can you let a twelve-year-old handle a Basilisk and the Chamber of Secrets?"
"And the cup!" Ron declared stepping up. "You made Harry miserable! People were mean to him and you didn't step in! I can't particularly say I like Snape over there but had it been Malfoy he would have gone off on anyone teasing the git! But both you and our Head of House just let it be, like it's all going to work out on its own and it's not. Harry had to face – that thing last year in the graveyard and all he's getting out of it is spite! I think Harry's done enough. He's never wanted the fame or glory or any of the attention that he's been given."
"Not to mention," Hermione took a confident step forward. "We told you in our first year that someone was after the stone. You ignored us, Professor McGonagall. You ignored Harry when he went up to an adult. You broke his trust after that, he never went to you again."
Now it was McGonagall's turn to look as though a ton of bricks had fallen on her head. She stared at the ground in shame.
"I do not know what to say," Dumbledore admitted painfully. The twinkle that had once been in his eyes were gone and it was replaced by something that no one could detect.
"Let Harry go," Remus said softly. "Look at the difference in him now! He's only been able to act like a kid for less than month and he looks nothing like he did in June. If you drag him back into the mess that's been made then you'll ruin all of his healing and progress."
Dumbledore nodded slowly. "I will not ask anything more of you, Harry. I see that I've hurt you far more than I ever expected. I knew that my judgment wasn't the best when placing you with the Dursleys and I am now reminded in full of all the terrible things that I have done. I planned so carefully that I never thought to wonder if you were happy or not."
Harry tilted his head to the side innocently and he smiled a little. "It's fine professor. I'm happy now. If that makes me a weak person to choose my own interest above the worlds then so be it. I'll be weak, because weakness is also one of those rare types of strengths."
Daniel curled his arm around Harry and drew him close to his side. "I'll let them continue going to school for now but as soon as Justin and Harry tell me they want out, we will be gone, and I highly doubt you'll ever see us again."
"That would be most unfortunate."
"It is what it is."
Hello to all the readers, reviewers, and lurkers who have been wondering when I was going to update and why I haven't returned any PMs. I'll be doing that in the next couple of days, but I've been trying to work as many hours as possible so I could save up to take a few days without pay off so I could get my health problems taken care of. Thank you for all those who've reviewed, I've read them all even though I haven't responded, because I figure you'd rather me write the story than respond to everyone.